by Richard Gillespie

While you’re busy moving into your new place, you might not be aware of unwanted guests who’ve taken up residence alongside you.

We plan for a lot when we buy a house, but it’s easy to be surprised with a bug infestation. Put your to-do list aside for a minute and check out this list of common household pests and get to know your new roommates.

Ants

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Ants come in many varieties, from the little black ones invading your cookie stash, to fire ants which are a painful nuisance. Some ants are most commonly found near their mounds, and others crawling across the kitchen shelf.

 

While it can be tricky to identify the ant species  you’re dealing with, some can be managed with DIY remedies found at just about any big box store. Others, like fire ants and carpenter can cause lasting damage inside your home. Then it’s time to make a bee-line to the phone and call an exterminator.

Bed Bugs

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You might expect these creatures to be lazy as they hang out in bed all day, but they’re actually very active and also enjoy furniture cushions and other dark spaces

 

It’s easy to mistake these blood suckers for beetles, and their bites for those of mosquitos. This can make it difficult to figure out what type of insect is bugging you. But as with any other pest, the larger the infestionation, the more difficult it is to eliminate.

Cockroaches

Your new home is likely to host American, German, or brown-banded cockroaches. Because of their living habits and propensity for dirty areas, these six-legged little monsters can carry serious illnesses such as E. coli.

 

Their excrement and shedded skin can also leave nasty stains on fabrics and papers, while inducing asthma symptoms in the elderly and young. For a persistent issue, you’ll probably want to enlist professional help.

Fleas & Ticks

We often associate fleas with Fido and ticks with the deep woods. But fleas will attach themselves to human hosts if dogs and cats aren’t available. There are many ways to deter fleas from your yard, but if they’ve hitched a ride inside your house, it’s time to bring in the pros.

 

Ticks tend to stay in wooded, bushy areas that may edge your property. Our most common tick in Texas is the black-legged tick, which is also responsible for the majority of Lyme disease infections. The best thing you can do is be vigilant and contact a expert if you notice a problem.

Spiders

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Most spider species are harmless, but in Austin, there are two varieties to be wary of: black widows and brown recluses (pictured above).

Both black widows and brown recluses have venomous bites that require medical attention. Fortunately, neither species will seek you out and only bite when threatened. Be cautious when rummaging through dark, undisturbed spaces or neglected woodpiles.

Silverfish

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Among other occasional invaders, Silverfish are a harmless nuisance. When the temperatures heat up, silverfish are likely to relocate into cooler, more temperate areas, such as your bathroom.

 

They can hang out for a long time without a food source. Spotting one or two isn’t cause for concern and is easily remedied with a paper towel or fly swatter. However, with a long lifespan and continual reproduction, it could be a challenge to eradicate a full-blown infestation.

Rodents

Despite what Cinderella and Ratatouille might have you believe, these furry creatures aren’t fun to have in your home. Mice, rats, and other rodents pose a problem because they can hide in several locations and can lead to health problems for humans. 

 

One or two mice can be taken care of with a trap from the home supply store, but an ongoing issue will need professional intervention. You have to consider closing points of entry as well as cleaning up following their removal.

 

Home ownership is something to be proud of, but it can also be overwhelming and full of surprises. While you’re busy hanging curtains, just keep an eye out for invaders. Instead of pouncing for the kill, take a moment to identify the little bugger. And don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements if needed. The visitors at your house-warming party are supposed to be on the guest list, not sneaking in the back door.

Richard Gillespie is an exterminator whose interest in household and landscape pests began as a child, when he would crank up the radio to hear “I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes.”  He prides himself on practicing humane and eco-friendly pest control, unless he finds a rat. Then, all bets are off.